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Port Looks to International Trade Boom for Growth


PALMETTO – Rocked by fertilizer giant Mosaic's decision to move rail operations to Tampa, Port Manatee is looking to a boost in international trade for signs that the future remains bright. Recently released figures showed that the value of Port Manatee’s trade with the world was up 17.15 percent over the comparable period in 2013. Exports increased by 25.68 percent, while imports rose 14.34 percent.

Through client company Kinder Morgan, Mosaic pulled out of Port Manatee in December of 2013, costing the port around $750,000 annually, while leading to furloughs for the the port's full-time employees. The port's operating revenue budget for this year is the lowest it has been in the last decade.

Port Manatee is also looking to see a boost in activity when Air Products begins exporting liquefied natural gas heat exchangers from the port next year.

“Port Manatee’s trade growth thus far this year is impressive indeed,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director. “Even more encouraging is the fact that Port Manatee’s export figures are poised to begin to increase exponentially next year, when shipment begins of LNG heat exchangers made at the Air Products Port Manatee facility. In fact, we expect to be the fastest-growing export port in Florida.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott was on hand in January when the world’s leader in liquefied natural gas technology and equipment dedicated its new 300,000-square-foot facility on 32 acres immediately across U.S. 41 from Port Manatee’s gates.

The port is taking steps to ensure its readiness to accommodate burgeoning volumes. It has opened its 40-foot-draft Berth 14, which, combined with Berth 12, offers 1,600 feet of contiguous berthing area adjacent to its 52-acre South Port property, where 10 acres already are developed and where a roll-on/roll-off terminal and vehicle-processing facility are targeted for development under a memorandum of understanding with The Pasha Group. Most recently, port officials announced June 10 plans for an international trade hub at the Port Manatee Intermodal Center.

“With Port Manatee’s propitious position as the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanding Panama Canal and as a natural gateway for Cuba trade,” Buqueras said, “we are readying for off-the-charts growth in commerce, furthering our already impressive contribution to the Manatee County economy.”

Port Manatee looks to become Florida’s fastest-growing export port with commencement of shipments of liquefied natural gas heat exchangers being made at the Air Products Port Manatee facility.


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